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NERC cites resource adequacy, other challenges in long-term assessment


From the December 16, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published December 16, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director

Resource adequacy, high levels of variable generation, retirements of coal-fired and nuclear plants, Increased dependence on natural gas and greater use of demand response are the major challenges facing the electricity industry over the next 10 years, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said Dec. 9. Resource adequacy in the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator (MISO) and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) assessment areas are projected to fall below reserve margin targets, NERC said in its 2014 Long-Term Reliability Assessment.

ERCOT is expected to remain below its reserve margin target during the 10-year period, while MISO will fall below targets during the 2015 summer, NERC said. The MISO anticipated reserve margin will fall to 12.13 percent during the 2015 summer season based, in part, on impacts from current and proposed regulations and concerns over reliability gas supply, according to the assessment. "If resources do not come online, an increased likelihood of firm load shedding is possible."

Approximately 63 GW of fossil-fired generation will be retired from the on-peak generation mix between 2013 and 2023—on top of some 25 GW that have retired since 2011—while five nuclear plants totaling 4.2 GW have been retired or announced their retirement since 2011, the assessment said. More than 46 GW of nameplate wind and solar capacity is planned in the next ten years, with the on-peak capacity contributions from wind plants in 2014 averaging 17 percent of installed wind capacity, NERC said. Since 2008, approximately 40 GW of gas-fired generation has come into service; another 28.6 GW of gas-fired capacity is planned by 2023. An additional 108 GW of gas-fired generation is considered "conceptual," NERC said.

Winter assessment
Resources are adequate to meet 2013/2014 winter peak demand across North America, NERC said in its 2013-2014 Winter Reliability Assessment. Prolonged cold weather events in the Northeast may limit natural gas availability, but preparations for extreme weather and other abnormal operating conditions are in place, NERC said.

"Winter-peaking areas have prepared sufficient plans to ensure resources are in place to meet peak demand," said John Moura, director of Reliability Assessment at NERC. "However, areas with natural-gas supply and transportation constraints may experience interrupted or curtailed fuel service in the event of extreme and prolonged cold weather." 

 

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